Pastor Ed Hurley is an Alabama Bright Light leading interfaith Thanksgiving service

Pastor Ed Hurley is an Alabama Bright Light leading interfaith Thanksgiving service
South Highlands Presbyterian Church's Pastor Ed Hurley enjoys gathering people of different denominations and faiths to give thanks together for their blessings. (Karim Shamsi-Basha/Alabama NewsCenter)

If Thanksgiving is a time of love, charity and removing what separates us, then South Highland Presbyterian Church in Birmingham is living out that theme.

The Birmingham faith community came together Nov. 26 for a Community Thanksgiving Service at the church. The service included faith leaders from Jewish Temple Beth-El and Temple Emanu-El, as well as 12 other churches of different denominations, including Greek Orthodox, Methodist, Baptist, Episcopal, Church of Christ, Presbyterian, Universalist, Episcopal, Catholic and Community of Christ.

Senior Pastor Ed Hurley of South Highland Presbyterian led the service, which was sponsored by the Southside Faith Community.

“We do this to give thanks,” Hurley said. “As people of different faiths, we are all thankful to God and to the privileges we have in this nation. Many people do not enjoy the blessings we have.”

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An offering taken up during the service benefited One Roof Ministries.

The service featured the different faith leaders and the Community Chancel Choir, which began the service with “Now Thank We All Our God.”

Hurley has been at South Highland for 19 years, after a journey through a few Southern churches.

“The first Thanksgiving after 9/11, this service began and it was the perfect service for that troubled time,” Hurley said. “It brought people together, so we continued doing it year after year. We are a nation of many different faiths but certain things, such as Thanksgiving, can bring us together.”

For Hurley, the Community Thanksgiving Service is the perfect way to be thankful for all of the blessings people enjoy. The message of the service hits on a deep level with him.

“When I see all of these different faiths coming together, I sense the innate unity that brings people of different faiths closer,” he said. “I believe we all bring different strengths, and to see that compiled around a time like Thanksgiving brings me so much joy.”

Alabama Bright Lights captures the stories, through words, pictures and video, of some of our state’s brightest lights who are working to make Alabama an even better place to live, work and play. Award-winning journalist Karim Shamsi-Basha tells their inspiring stories. Email him comments, as well as suggestions on people to profile, at [email protected].

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